Can you believe Google debuted its first Pixel phone six years ago? Google has so far released 16 smartphones, and the Pixel 7 series won’t arrive for another three months. However, several features on Pixel phones have come and gone over the previous few years. Which of the features that was eliminated is your favorite?
Some essential Pixel lineup components have persisted throughout all of Google’s smartphones. the software-powered cameras that, despite the advancement of the competition, continue to astound with their pictures. awesome add-ons, like the Now Playing function of Google. Additionally, let’s not neglect the updated software and clean software.
But Google has added one or two new features to almost every Pixel phone while gradually phasing out others. Face Unlock, which debuted with the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL but has only survived through that one, rather unsuccessful generation, is the obvious elephant in the room. On Google’s smartphones, Face Unlock functioned flawlessly and offered a user experience comparable to that of the iPhone.
Beyond that, though, Google has ultimately abandoned a number of important capabilities.
With the release of the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G in 2020, Active Edge began to gain ground after making its debut on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Squeezing the sides of the phone activated Google Assistant thanks to a function that made use of specialized sensors and the phone’s haptic motors. Although it was a clever idea, some users found it to be divisive. While I have always loved the gesture, some people didn’t like how readily it might be accidentally activated or how challenging it was to use when set to less sensitive levels.
In the end, I think it’s best that Google removed this option. As The Verge noted in a recent retrospective, Active Edge was naturally cool and possibly pretty useful given how unpleasant it can be to initiate the software gesture for activating Assistant in more recent iterations of Android. However, given that the feature was not all that popular and required special hardware in order to function, its removal actually made sense.
Next up is Soli, a unique chip included in the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL that not only made it possible for some additional capabilities but also strengthened Face Unlock. This only survived for one generation, as was already mentioned, and it doesn’t appear like it will survive for another.
Soli employs a little kind of radar to find nearby objects and motion. It is capable of some amazing things, but on a smartphone, it is only really capable of a few moves close to the device. A swiping motion could be used to halt playing or skip tracks in a music app. Additionally, a swipe might accept or reject a phone call. My preferred choice was a wave that could snooze an alarm, which I freely admitted to abusing while using the Pixel 4 XL in 2019.
Even though Soli only lasted a year in Pixel phones, the technology is still used in other Google devices. The Nest Hub 2nd Gen uses the chip to track your sleep, which is just outrageously cool. The Nest Thermostat uses the chip to detect passersby to light up the display. Additionally, it still uses the sleep gesture, which I still employ way too frequently.
The dual camera for selfies was another feature from earlier Pixel phones that Google has now discontinued. Both the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL came pre-equipped with two front-facing cameras. One was a typical selfie camera, while the other had a wide-angle lens that could photograph larger crowds. Selfie-taking on a Pixel was superior to selfie-taking on other phones thanks to a feature that was actually useful. I clearly recall volunteering my phone for a group photo when my pals complained that their iPhones couldn’t fit everyone in.
Google hasn’t yet added this feature to Pixel phones, and with good reason. In 2022, a premium Android phone can’t get away with having two cameras in the bezels, and a dual-camera cutout in the form of a hole punch would be equally unappealing. Although the wide-angle lens in the Pixel 6 Pro is present, it doesn’t quite have the same effect as Google’s 2018 launches.
One of the maybe shortest-lived features ever to adorn a Pixel really wasn’t even exclusive to the lineup. With Android 11, the power menu was totally redesigned to provide rapid access to your tap-to-pay mobile wallet as well as smart home controls, rather than just power and restart options. Since OnePlus and a few other manufactures also employed it, this feature wasn’t unique to Pixel phones. Even yet, the function was most noticeable on Pixel phones, thus the fact that Android 12 completely removed it hurts.
Similar to iOS, Android 10 expanded customization possibilities by enabling users to alter the system typeface and icon designs. It was a fun option, but Google eventually replaced it with the wonderful Material You in Android 12.
You might also recall that Google Photos allowed Pixel phones to shoot pictures in Portrait mode and then instantly change those pictures back to the original with a single swipe. When the Portrait effect either didn’t turn out well or when it might not be suitable to use it when sharing the photo, the option made it simple to save the shot. In either instance, the capability was silently deleted around the release of the more recent devices from several of Google’s previous Pixels.
The issue of Google Photos backup is one feature elimination that arguably hurts more than any other as the Pixel lineup ages. The first Google Pixel was advertised as offering free, unlimited, lifetime backup to Google Photos of both photos and videos in the highest quality. At the time, it was a fantastic offer that has yet gone unmatched. The Pixel 2 series took a minor sideways step by switching to a limited-time option for unlimited backup. The Pixel 3a was the first to only receive unlimited storage saver backups and lose the original quality offer. Google has completely discontinued the promotion by the time the Pixel 6 had been released. The last phone to qualify for unlimited Google Photos backups for life was the Pixel 5, but it only received that offer with low-quality backups.
There are undoubtedly some additional little additions from previous Pixels that we have overlooked, but we’re most interested in learning which one you liked best. Let’s talk about it in the comments!